"Why is it?" I wondered, as I sat in the Brave Horse Tavern drinking a local brew and eating an organic hamburger. Why is it that, though I usually favor the one-of-a-kind, family-owned restaurant, I am seriously enamored of Seattle's Tom Douglas restaurant empire? This man owns 11 restaurants within just two miles of each other, sometimes just blocks away, and in the current case, three in the same building. There's their flagship, located just steps from the famed Pike Place Market, a couple of pizzerias, and the Tibetan dumpling house next door. (There I met long-time employee, Dekyi, who has been making her Tibetan dumplings for Tom's family of restaurants for years, and is now showcased in her own cafe. What kind of restauranteer does that?) And that's just mentioning a few.
Honestly, it's not because these restaurants are known to be front-runners in the local, sustainable, and organic food movement, though I think that's cool. It's because their food is good and their food is interesting, and you can tell they care about it, they care about their staff, and they care about their patrons. Their restaurants provide a singular, unique experience, each one, and that's probably why they don't feel like the conglomerate they are. It's sort of my unspoken goal to visit all of them, and I'm pretty close. Besides that tasty hamburger with its Dahlia Workshop bun (another of Tom's venues) and the Tibetan dumplings (who knew I'd ever have the opportunity to try them), I've enjoyed Pacific Northwest crabcakes, Greek kebabs, a Yukon Gold and rosemary pizza, and other taste treats in my eating journey.
I don't mean to have high expectations for meal time, but I know I do, both in taste and experience. I guess that's why I so enjoyed our jaunt to the city last weekend. Marking a couple more Tom Douglas restaurants off my list and sampling the edible diversity that is Seattle made for a very fun afternoon.